So I've seen a couple questions of this type once in a blue moon, and am thinking of asking one, but wasn't sure if this was considered within the realm of SO.

Q: Are questions about programming language design allowed on StackOverflow?

I can find at least two open questions on the subject, but I recall somewhere long ago reading that such questions weren't appropriate for StackOverflow. So I decided to go ahead and ask.

3 Answers 3


I think it's pretty reasonable, myself - particularly as we know that at least one of the C# language designers posts on SO.

Put it this way: I've seen quite a few such questions, and many of them have received interesting answers. There's a certain amount of guesswork required in most cases, but it can be informed guesswork - and sometimes there is a definite answer.

  • The universe didn't automatically accept your answer soon enough, so I did. I'm accepting this because of "sometimes there is a definite answer." At the end of the day, it's possible to ask fairly sane and definitely answerable questions about language design. Jan 25, 2010 at 6:00

The only way to find out is to ask on SO. There seem to be three basic kind of language design questions - these are my personal opinions on them

  • I'm designing my own language - do you think XXXX would be a good feature [ok if community wiki]

  • Java has XXXX, why doesn't C++ have it too (or vice versa) [close as S&A]

  • Why does XXXX have YYYY [ok if not blindingly obvious]

  • Mine's in the first category, and I may not even ask it anymore, but I do agree with your breakdown of the different types of language design questions (and your "try it and see" assertion). Upvotes all around! Jan 25, 2010 at 5:58

I think they're perfectly fine, so long as 1) they aren't thinly-veiled rants about some language feature the author doesn't care for, and 2) they're reasonably specific.

That said, I gotta agree with Neil - you're not gonna know how it'll go over 'til you try. This question is pretty lousy (IMHO), yet it got one rather nice answer that makes it worth reading... But if Norman Ramsey hadn't responded, it would have been a waste of time - the author could have asked "Why would I want to embed Lua in my app?" and received essentially the same responses.

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